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Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 10 of 60

Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 10 of 60

Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location


Lesson Info

Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location

Right now we have the computer set up. I like to shoot tethered whenever I'm shooting models on location, so I just have a laptop here with capture one loaded up. And I'm just shooting tethered so that I'm seeing the images as they show up on the computer screen, not on the back of the camera screen. 'Cause the camera screen is so small, it's so tiny, I kind of will sometimes miss details. So I'll think I've got this great shot, but then maybe there's an eyelash doing funny things, and I can't see that on the back of the screen. So first thing what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take, I've got a 16 to 35 mil lens here, and I'm shooting with Canon 5D Mark II, and I'm just going to take a portrait of her, well just a shot of the scene itself, and I'm gonna make sure that my background is slightly overexposed. I'm gonna expose for how I want the background to disappear, basically. She's gonna be a little bit dark, and that's okay, 'cause we're gonna fill this in with flash. But the reason why ...

I'm overexposing my background is so it's easier to cut out. She has nice dark hair, if we have a nice bright background, then the extraction process is gonna be a lot simpler. So I'm just gonna hold this here, one, two, three. And there we go. So I can see here on the back of my screen that the background is nice and light, it's a little bit too bright, and that's totally okay, because then we can fill this in with flash, and we'll get a proper exposure. I'm keeping her in her jacket right now, because there's no point in freezing her out, 'cause it is a little bit chilly out here, but once we get to the shooting part, then I'll get somebody to come along, we'll take her jacket off, and then we'll start posing. And then if we're taking a break, we're gonna get her nice and warm again, and then we'll continue on. So, on my laptop screen, the background was a little overexposed. Downside of shooting with a laptop is you can control the color, but you can't always adjust the contrast on a laptop screen. So on my screen, it looked overexposed, on this TV, it actually looks almost properly exposed, it's overexposed in some spots, but it's not as bright as it looked on my screen. So that just meant that in post-production, once I got into Photoshop and I looked at it, I was like, ah, crap! So then I just adjusted it, but we'll go through all of that later. But in other cases, once again, going forward, so when we were picking the model for this, I was like, okay, so we're gonna be shooting something outdoors, I want a model with dark hair. Because you guys don't want to sit here and watch me cut out hair for three hours, we just don't have that much time. So once again, going forward, okay, this is our limitation. Our limitation is time. So how to we make things more time-efficient? So I this case, get a model with dark hair, shoot her in a light background, the extraction process is gonna be much, much simpler. What kind of metering mode were you using on your camera, and do you use exposure a lot to try and control that really light background? Sometimes I meter, sometimes I don't. In this case, I just didn't want to carry all the gear with me, and I was like, I'm gonna shoot tethered, it's not pouring rain, I can just look at it and eyeball it, and get it, you know, 90% of the way there. So in this case, it wasn't quite as overexposed as my screen was telling me it was, but it's within an allotment that I can easily change that, and I can easily fix it. If I was getting something really specific, I mean if anyone here uses a light meter, I think they've gone the way of the dinosaur for a lot of people, because you can look at the back of your camera or computer, and see your exposure. But if you have a light meter, light meters are incredibly powerful. If you're not able to shoot to a tethered anything, and everything's bright, you can just get a light meter, meter everything, and do the math, and then you'll know what your exposure is. So, it's once again using the tools, right? So if I'm at home and I have my meter with me, then I'll totally use it. But if I don't, it's also, 90% of the time, fine. (laughing)

Class Description

With the right Adobe® Photoshop® know-how and studio shoot experience, you can merge fact and fiction into a reality that lives up to your imagination. Renee Robyn has made a career of turning everyday photos from her travels into eye-catching images. Robyn will teach you how to add people and other elements to your existing landscape photos using ethereal custom effects.

In this class you’ll learn:

  • How to choose or set up a shoot for your background image
  • How to direct posing during a shoot, and work with directional light in-studio to make your subject fit into the background image
  • How to composite your subject into your image using Photoshop

Photo compositing allows you to breathe interesting ideas into your photos. Open your hard drive, walk into your memory, and turn past experiences into fantastic new realities.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Why You Should Sketch Your Composite
  3. What to Look for in Your Background
  4. Posing Your Model
  5. Communicate with Your Team
  6. Elements of Compositing
  7. Learning from Failure & Criticism
  8. On-Location Safety Tips
  9. How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo
  10. Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location
  11. On-Location Posing
  12. Cliff Shoot Location Final Thoughts
  13. Tips for Culling Images
  14. Culling Images Q&A
  15. Preparing Your Image for Composite
  16. Composite Image Cleanup
  17. Adding Background Image to Composite
  18. The Difference Between Flow & Opacity
  19. Composite Sky Elements
  20. Using Curves to Color Match
  21. Adding Atmospheric Depth to Image
  22. Using Color Efex Pro to Manipulate Color
  23. Using the Liquify Tool
  24. Color Theory & Monitor Calibration
  25. Adding Smoke Layer to Image
  26. Selective Sharpening
  27. Crop Your Image
  28. Goal Setting for Digital Artists
  29. Review of Location Composite
  30. Understand Angle & Height for Your Base Plate Image
  31. Base Plate Focus Point
  32. Base Plate Lighting Tips
  33. How to Use a Stand-In for Base Plate Image
  34. Capture On-Location Base Plate Image
  35. Student Positioning Demo
  36. Base Plate Sketching
  37. On-Location Sky Capture
  38. What to Look for in a Base Plate Model
  39. Building Composite Model Lighting
  40. Composite Model Test Shots for Angle Matching
  41. Composite Model Shoot: The Art of Fabric Throwing
  42. Composite Model Shoot: Working with Hair
  43. Composite Model Shoot: Posing Techniques
  44. Composite Test with Final Shot
  45. Lighting Setup Overview
  46. Culling Model Shoot Images
  47. Adjusting Skintone Colors
  48. Merging Background with Model
  49. How to Mask Hair
  50. Creating a Layer Mask with the Brush Tool
  51. Creating Shadow Layers
  52. Removing Visual Distractions with Stamp Tool
  53. Replacing Sky with Layer Mask
  54. Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth
  55. Creating Contrast in Your Composite
  56. Adding Atmospheric Elements
  57. Using Particle Shop
  58. Selective Color Adjustments
  59. Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches
  60. Closing Thoughts


Dino Maez

i have to say, the class was AMAZING! in every way from the tricks and technique's of mastering this art form to the personalized attention given by Renee. through the class you are able to learn information that would normally take the average person years of trial and error. Renee gives you the gift of benefitting from her her experiences and what she has learned THE HARD WAY! Renee is an outstanding instructor full of passion for what she does, and with a strong desire to not only improve the art, but more importantly, pay it forward, by sharing her knowledge with others. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event in person, truly a once in a lifetime experience for me, the staff at creative live were THE BEST! they are helpful in every way and really made this event something special, i can't say enough about the experience i had and would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to go down for a class, it will be an experience that you will never forget. but the best part of creative live is that wether you are there in person or wether you are watching from the comfort of your own home, you are involved in the class in REAL TIME, you have the ear and attention of the skilled artist giving the instruction, being there myself i can tell you that Renee was regularly given questions and comments from the viewers via the creative live staff and she would respond to them as they came, in that way you are very much apart of the class you are never left without getting that personalized attention of an amazing artist or that specific question you have answered, and even better you have the option to purchase the class and have it as a constant resource in your tool kit that you can refer back to at any point that you need a refresher or want to recall that special technique that was demonstrated. thank you thank you to renee and all the staff at creative live you have a life long member in me. and i would recomend that everyone take advantage of this valuable resource dino maez

stephen lenman

I have completed many creative courses. This is by far the best so far. Quite the most amazing and inspiring presenter with a true passion for their craft. The core information is excellent, but the thing i liked most were her subtle tangents, dropping incredible information completely on the fly. A complete real world honest view of business and practical side of the industry. Especially her advice on how she started to her business. Saving up enough in her day job so she could pay the rent, and do photography for 3-6 months.

Sheldon Carvalho

Awesome class. I've been following Renee for a very long time. I love her work and to finally see her work and get an image done from start to finish was quite something.. I love the way she sees things and the way she treats her work and all fellow creative. I would recommend this to everyone interested in getting into composting. Looking forward to creating and making my own art work. But it now :) Have fun creating. :)